To Deuce of Clubs To the Mountain Monograms home page A B C D E F G H I J K L M
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Why? Wherefore? Huh?

Date: Mon, 8 Dec 2008
From: Chris R.

Hey Your "C" for Clemenceau is actually for Clarkdale, and Cottonwood the town over has its own "C" as well. I'll try to get you a picture of it. Great stuff you have.

you know, i kind of suspected i had that wrong. and i also knew there was a cottonwood C, but my pal Kimber was driving and we were heading for elephante and it was too late in the day to try and talk her into going on a mountain monogram chase. thanks for the info.

From: Frances
Subject: Mountain Monogram - Redlands "R"
Date: Wed, 1 Oct 2008

Hi there,

I was on Google trying to find information on an "R" on the side of a mountain (which I captured in a photo during a flight to California last year) and stumbled upon your site. I now know all about mountain monograms - thank you!! I'm checking out the rest of the DOC right now (pretty interesting so far, I must say), but thought you might want a copy of my photo to add to your collection if you're still updating.


thank you for the photo. contrary to all appearances, i am still updating, but i'm awaiting a switch over to drupal before uploading my backload of mountain monogram images, but i will get to it in due course. i hope you didn't find the rest of DoC too disturbing.

From: Evelyn Corning
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2006
Subject: A Book on Hillside Letters to be published 3/07


I am just finishing a book that will be published in March of 07 on the history and cultural of Hillside Letters. I want to express my thanks to you and your great web site in the acknowledgment. Do you want me to use your name or just "Deuce of Clubs?" Would you let me know? I am happy to do whichever you would like. I referred to your web site a lot these past four years. It is great!

Evelyn Corning
Tucson, AZ

From: Evelyn Corning
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2007

After four years of research, and a lifetime of looking my book Hillside Letters A to Z: A Guide to Hometown Landmarks about hillside letters is finally finished. However, it is not without a mistake or two. The one that bothers me most is the deleting of your web site in the acknowledgements. I didn't notice that my editor had missed it when I proofed my final copy. I am sorry, because your web site was not only fun, but very helpful, and you deserved the acknowledgment. So please accept my apology. Thanks for keeping up your web site, I can't image the amount of work it must be, but for me it was an invaluable resource.

Evelyn Corning

P.S. The book can be found at [publisher's website deleted]

[after all that, she expected me to buy a copy? invaluable, indeed. ah, well, used copies are currently (10sep2008) selling at amazon for as little as $0.63.]

From: Dave R.
Subject: The mountain monogram/Alpine TX
Date: Fri, 5 Sep 2008

I go back to Alpine once in awhile, I spent the first 24 years of my life in that two cow patty town. The last time I saw that A that clearly was my freshmen year, we were marched up there be the seniors, given mops and white wash, told to change the 84 to 85 and paint it. The next time was my senior year and I was pretty shit faced so I can’t say I remember it all to well. I saw the picture on your website and had a long walk down memory lane, THANX I NEEDED IT! here to help keep shit-faced memories alive
de nada,

Date: Sun, 17 Aug 2008
From: Cardhouse Robot

from Twinkie, Deconstructed, pg 233

"According to legend, Benjamin Franklin is responsible for the success of plaster of Paris as a soil amendment in the United States (it promotes aeration in clay soils). He was our first ambassador to France, and so admired its use while he was there that he brought some back here in 1785. An energetic promoter, he worked it into the soil on a prominent hillside in the form of letters reading, THIS HAS BEEN PLASTERED. When the clover growing over the enriched soil grew dramatically denser than the analphabetic clover around it, he had successfully introduced gypsum as “land plaster” to American farmers. (The strange thing is that ancient Greeks gardened with it, too, so it is not clear why Franklin’s coaxing seemed new to the Americans.) Imported from Paris at first, gypsum’s popularity was assured when deposits were found in abundance around the United States."

From: Courtney M.
Date: Mon, 4 Aug 2008

My name is Courtney. I go to [X] High School and this year I will be a senior. We have a pathetic excuse of a mountain monogram, but it used to be very nice. For my senior year and especially for homecoming I want it to look nice, however the people that now live below it claim that it is an eyesore and that it isn't enviornmentally friendly to fix it up and paint it. I was wondering if you know of any way to possibly get around this. I would very much appreciat the help, and if we can get it back to a real monogram I'll let you know and maybe you could add it to your web site.

well, courtney, here's the deal . . . i can't give advice about this to you over an officially monitored medium such as the internet has become in these our highly monitored and not-so-free times. but i can tell you a very brief story.
once upon a time, overlooking a school called arizona state university, there was a giant A. the giant A was sometimes, though not usually, painted by school employees. but mostly it was painted by persons (or elves) unknown who just felt like fixing up the A or changing the A's color. sometimes it was students (or elves) from a rival university who would paint the A to match their own school's colors. sometimes it was a fraternity (or elves) or some other group (of elves) who changed the color to their liking. sometimes the color of the A changed more than once in a single week. this giant cement A has been repainted so many times and so many colors that i think a core sample of the coats of paint would run at least several inches thick. the color changes always took place at night. flashlights may have been used (or, in the case of elves, magic balls of invisible light). because flashlights on the hill could have been a tip-off. stealthy people might have been able somehow to obtain night-vision goggles. (except elves, who didn't need them. because of the magic balls of light.)
and they all lived happily, &c., the end.
(i hope you'll keep me posted, if by some coincidence persons unnamed* should kindly restore your school's mt. monogram any time soon.)
*or elves

From: Scott58111
Date: Sun, 20 Jul 2008

Just a note to let you know your monogram project is missing a letter in San Luis Obispo (apart from the CalPoly ones)

From: Dave P.
Subject: El Paso, TX Monograms
Date: Sat, 24 May 2008


Although there is an El Paso High School in El Paso, the "E" on your website is actually a "B" for Bowie High School. Note how the spaces needed to form an "E" on the right side of the monogram are actually filled in with paint, and the upper and lower edges of the right side are rounded to form a "B".

There are two letters on the Eastern side of the mountain: A for Austin High School and I for Irvin High School. Unfortunately, I don't live there anymore, so I can't send photos. They're visible on, though.

Austin A

Irvin I

good information to know, thank you. i like that el paso quite a bit. too much east of there texas starts to get to me a little, but i like those mountains, and the proximity of mexico.

Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2008
From: Steven B.
Subject: Murrysville tree sign

Hello there. I stumbled upon your site and I liked what I saw.

I did a search for the Murrysville tree sign, and they have an updated picture of it on Murrysville website! Here's the direct link to the image:

I would be a bit cautious if you're willing to put this photo on your site. Everything on Murrysville's website is copyrighted to them with all rights reserved.

Subject: Television Interview request
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2008
From: Reginald Miller
Re: Mountain Monograms of the San Gabriel Valley and Southern California and more......

If you are interested, I'd like to interview you for a television news segment I am producing in Southern California entitled 'Mountain Monograms.' Can I give you a call on the telephone if you are interested, please email me back your phone number and the best time you can be reached.
We will put your web address on our story somewhere as a thank you.
Thought you should know that I couldn't find any of our local Mountain Monograms on your site. We have quite a few here in the San Gabriel Valley,
Check out our list below.

Cities/Areas: (4)
City of Azusa
City of Duarte
City of Monrovia
Los Altos (City of Hacienda Heights / Rowland Heights)

Colleges/Schools: (3)
Mt. San Antonio College 'MSAC' (2 on same hill) Walnut, CA
California State Polytechnic University Pomona 'CPP,' Pomona, CA
Citrus College 'CITRUS' (Inside their Football Stadium) Azusa/Glendora, CA

Mountain Monograms that once were but then the Forest Service stopped the maintenance of: (4)
California Technical Institute ' T ' Mt. Wilson, City of Pasadena, CA***
Pomona College ' P ' City of Claremont, CA***
University of La Verne ' L ' City of La Verne, CA***
University of Redlands ' R ' City of Redlands, CA***
*** unable to see on Google Earth

and then there is of course "Hillside Signs" which I not sure if they fit into the Mountain Monogram category at all but here they are anyway: (3)
Rose Hills Cemetery 'ROSE HILLS' Whittier, CA
Hollywood Hills 'HOLLYWOOD' Hollywood, CA
Dodgers Stadium Parking Lot 'THINK BLUE' Los Angeles, CA

I sincerely hope to hear from you Deuce!

i appreciate the inquiry, but i'm really not a big fan of being on television.
thanks for your mountain monogram list. i do actually have a good number of those (plus a ton more), but I'm in the midst of writing a book and have unfortunately had to put the MM updates on the back burner. (i didn't remember that there was one in azusa, though—i don't know how I could have missed that one.)
Thanks Doc for the reply. Would it still be okay to mention your Mountain Monogram web address within the television news segment entitled Mountain Monograms I am producing?
oh, sure, that would be fine, thanks. i really do need to get that site all databased and re-designed, one of these days, and some extra eyeballs/feedback would probably spur me on to do just that. i must have at least fifty or sixty more to add, at this point.
I can get you an .mp4 file that if you'd like you could put on your website if you'd like.
very kind of you. yes, please. I'd like that.
Alrighty then, look for an email next week my friend from this email address with the ..mp4 attachment of my story and it will also have a link to where it is hosted on my account

Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2008
From: Sandy

Can you help me identify this? Picture was taken between Benson, Az and Douglas, Az on Hwy 80. Sorry I can not pinpoint the location more, but I didn't realize at the time I would have such a problem finding out what it stood for.

Someone told me it was for the University of Az, but that is no where NEAR UA OR any of its sister sites, so that really doesn't seem to be an option for me.

Inquiring minds would LOVE to know the answer!

Thanks for any help you may be able to provide and also thanks for the interesting site. I could spend days browsing.

you've got me stumped, here. i know the area well, but i've never noticed that. off the top of my head i can't think of any place or school between benson and douglas that starts with an A. that's a lot of map in between those two. the terrain looks to me most like that between tombstone & bisbee, though.
did it look like an A from various angles? in the photo, it almost looks like a fluke natural formation of bushes. (i've been fooled like that before. there's a natural formation in the tucson mountains that looks from certain angles like a T, so much so that i drove up there to investigate one day.)
It could be between Tombstone and Bisbee . . . I don't know we were on a fast trip and so amazed by the change of scenery from what we were use to seeing. In awe I quess you would say. We were going to visit my son in Douglas who was leaving for Kuwait in 2 days AND my FIRST grandbaby, so excitement for me was at the max.

The joke was "Hey, Aaron has been here, he carved his name into the mountainside", little did I know at that time I would have such a hard time figuring out what it stood for.

LOL, I quess that means I will have to fly to Tucson again and make that trip to Douglas to locate that "A" again. I will let you know if I find anything out.

Thanks again for a great site!

Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2007
From: Karl P.
Subject: Y mountain webcam update

I am going to climb the mountain up to the Y over Brigham Young University this Monday, and thought I'd update you on the new URL for the webcam aimed at the Y from the campus.

From: Jim G.
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 2006

Your mountain monograms site is very interesting.

I'd also like to add "C" Hill in Chadron Nebraska to the list on the side of hill near Chadron State College.

From: Mindy
Subject: "A" is for Alamogordo!
Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006

Hey Doc!

Last year I went with my husband to his 20th high school reunion in Alamogordo, NM. The day after the reunion party/dance there was a family picnic, and it was during the picnic that my husband and some of his classmates decided that the current high school kids weren't doing their job in keeping the "A" painted like the "older" generations of students used to.

So, my husband & I, and several of his classmates all met early the next morning for breakfast and then proceeded to drive (we could only drive part way) and then walk up the mountain, laden with buckets of white paint and mops (donated by the local hardware store...a couple of the guys had gone there after the picnic and asked for their help) that we used to put the paint down with!

What a job! But, what a lot of fun, too! We're taking my husband's kids this August to New Mexico, and making a side trip to Alamogordo, and we'll show them the "A". We live in Houston, TX and I was trying to explain the whole concept behind mountain monograms, but since we live on the gulf coast where there are no mountains, or hills for that matter, they just didn't get it. So, trying to find a photo online to give them the idea, I came across yours.

They thought it was pretty cool, and can't wait to see it in person. Hope you're having a great summer!


that is good to hear. my compliments to the preservationists. i've seen a few mountain monograms not so fortunate. perhaps a Society should be founded. . . .

Date: Wed, 1 Mar 2006
From: Pete C.:

this is about the mountain monogram oh grossmont hight school...i can get a much better picture i go to the school. and it is located in La Mesa, Ca. Which does mean the table but el cajon does not mean the coffin, it means the box. but, the picture you have is not the best at all.

Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2006
From: Kelly P.
Subject: U of UT mountain monogram


Here's an exciting new development with the U of Utah mountain monogram. I'm moving back to Iowa soon-- gonna miss these things.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Michael K. Young, President
Date: Apr 5, 2006 10:47 AM
Subject: [UofU] Ira A. and Mary Lou Fulton - Block U Challenge

Dear Student:

I hope you will join me -- along with fellow faculty, staff, and alumni -- in meeting an exciting challenge: restoring the Block U on the hill overlooking our campus! This important landmark has stood proudly as the U's symbol for more than 100 years. But time and the elements have taken a toll, and the Block U now needs major restoration to remain securely on the hill.

Generous philanthropists and U of U honorary alumni Ira A. and Mary Lou Fulton have issued a challenge to join them in making the restoration of the Block U possible. The Fulton Challenge invites each of us in the university community to "give back" to our school in this very visible way. But we must act fast!

Here's how the challenge works:

- Each eligible gift -- no matter the amount -- will be matched one to one.
- Gifts will be matched up to $1,000.
- Gifts must be received by the U by June 30, 2006, to qualify for the match.
- All student donors will have their name proudly displayed to acknowledge their support.
- Funds contributed will support not only the Block U restoration, but also student scholarships.

Word of this effort is spreading! Student groups are involved and rallying support through The MUSS and other organizations. Together, we can succeed in restoring this important landmark and keeping an important U of U tradition alive!

For more information and to make your gift visit:

From: Mike
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2006

I belive that Woodlake California has a big W on the hillside.
Remember, the Big W?

i don't believe i've been to woodlake. i'll have to bring wagner there for a photo sometime.

From: Tom K.
Date: Thu, 5 Jan 2006

I came across your website and I'm impressed. Especially with the tour of all the spots in SE Arizona where I grew up and our fine contribution to Western Civilization in the form of decorated hillsides.

Sadly, you are missing the most ambitious project of all, the StratCom emblem that decorated the side of a mountain at Fort Huachuca for about 30 years before it was ripped out and returned to "nature" in the name of environmeddleism or some such. A couple of days' searches have only returned the two pictures attached. If you're interested, I'll contact some old-timers in the area and see if they have better shots.


gracias. coincidentally, i used to know a colonel who used to be in charge out there at huachuca.
My pleasure. Which colonel are you thinking about? If it's Ivan "The Terrible" Howitz, we have an acquaintance in common.

BTW, I came across your site searching for a clothespin match gun. Your how-to was great refresher on building one and I'll be inciting my son to follow my footsteps into the wonderful world of pyrotechnical delinquency shortly. My compliments to your model on her cute hands too.

Date: Tue, 15 Mar 2005
From: Eric B.

My name is Eric B. and I am making a map of the mountain monograms in the west for a semester project in Cartography 411 at Brigham Young University. I will send you a copy when I am done.
Also I have a list of about 20 Mountain Monograms in Idaho.

I'm glad I found your website. it has saved me a ton of searching.

i look forward to seeing the map. i've been planning to make a clickable map for the site for a long time, and now that i'm databasing all the mountain monogram pages, i'll finally be able to implement it.

Date: Thu, 31 Mar 2005
From: Brandon P.

A student of mine is working on a wall map of the monograms for a cartography class, with the aid of your site (he may have contacted you already: Eric B.). Anyway, he's promised to send you a map as thanks for your great site and a whole bunch of additions, mostly in Utah and Idaho.

I just wanted to answer a question. The "55" in Monroe, Utah is actually "SS" for South Sevier High School (by the way, the "NS" in Salina is for North Sevier).

ah, thanks for clearing those up.
Also, probably the most unique example is in Orderville, Utah (Valley High School) which doesn't have a single letter, but every class paints their year on a different rock on the cliff north of town; numbers are all over the mountainside. I've seen them back to the 20's. It would be a terrible eyesore anywhere but the rural West. I'll send you a picture next time I'm down there.
thanks, i'd love to see that. i've also heard of a place in the mojave where the military does maneuvers and they have a tradition of painting their insignia on rocks. i missed my chance to see it a few months ago, but i'm hoping to check it out this year.

Date: Thu, 30 Sep 2004
From: Brad C.

Bozeman MT has the largest M (for Montana) in the state and a smaller, fainter B for Bozeman.

no one's keeping up the B? was it put there by a school that no longer exists, perhaps?
Also Livingston MT has a trout on its hill.
a trout. wow. how big?

From: Robin T.
Subject: Alamogordo
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 2004

Hey! found your fascinating site on mountains with letters. I grew up in Alamogordo NM. I was so surprised the first time I traveled to another town with a mountain right over it to find out that everyone else seemed to be copying our idea of monograming our mountain.

well, i don't know how old alamogordo's monogram is, but it seems the original idea belongs to uc berkeley.
I felt really gyped though because my stupid high school class didn't get to go paint the rocks. Don't know why, our class was distinguished by a remarkable lack of collective personality.
but personality is individual, is it not? what prevents a group of individuals from going and painting a letter on their own? (in tempe, arizona, people paint the A different colors practically every other week. drives the mayor crazy, but who knows but what crazy mayors might do fewer stupid things?)
"our class was distinguished by a remarkable lack of collective personality." Nobody had the leadership to do anything like that, I guess. Oh well. -) Great site, thanks for the reply.
danke y de nada.
What is with the bust in some of the photos??
wagner is very photogenic.
Wagner ought to sport a pair of raybans or something.
well, he's only a foot tall. ray bans would be outsized for the old boy.

Date: Tue, 28 Sep 2004
From: Roocifer

I was recently in St. George, UT & saw the D on the side of the mountain.
Immediately thought of yer MM page.
See that you already have a picture of it, but how about one at night with it lit up?

por favor! that would be swell.
Thanks for the entertaining time wasting!
de nada. as the souvenir handbags the downtown attendees of WASTE-CON DOUBLE-AUGHT FOUR were carrying around said: we're "#1 IN WASTE!"

Date: Mon, 27 Sep 2004
From: Jean
Subject: L mountain

I read on your website you were sick. Hope you have completely recovered.

yep. the latest mystery illness abated without so much as a by-your-leave.
For future illness remember the likelihood of getting food poisoning from meat or dairy is slim - next to none. Food poisoning from meat or dairy is usually a urban myth. Or a publicity stunt from groups wanting their name in the paper claiming mass illness from the beef tenderloin served at their convention at a Ramada Express or somewhere.
i will keep that in mind. (though, as i hesitate to reveal to you, i consume not so much meat & dairy. heh heh ... veal.).
Recently went back to my hometown Yakima, WA for a funeral. While there drove into Union Gap which is a town that is on the outskirts of Yakima. Unfortunately for Yakima many businesses moved to Union Gap. The downtown Yakima Mall where I went as a young teen is now closed and businesses went to the now expanding Union Gap Valley Mall. Downtown Yakima just isn't the hot spot it used to be. Anyway, in Union Gap I saw a letter L on a mountain and took a few pictures which I'll send to you.
muchas gracias, as always
I had no idea why the letter L unless it was a U and maybe a mountain slide covered the right side of the U and turned it into a L. Highly probable. I called Union Gap City Hall and asked the woman who answered the phone about the mountain L. She said she has been wondering about the L and asked her coworkers. A couple coworkers knew. Union Gap got a new high school, La Salle High School, and the high school kids went and put a L on the mountain. So there's what the L.
that should be the school's cheer: WHAT THE L? WHAT THE L? LA SALLE! LA SALLE! THAT'S WHAT THE L, JACK!
Taking a break from painting the back of my house I came inside and saw a deuce of clubs on TV. The movie had just started when I saw the card in a scene where some people were playing cards. I didn't watch the movie but a TV guide said it's called "The Old Dark House (1963 Horror) U.S. car salesman stops at occupied English mansion. Tom Poston".
tom poston. holy cow. it's got to be a rare tom poston movie that doesn't have someone better to list in the tv guide.
A couple days ago I watched the movie A Very Brady Sequel a parody of The Brady Bunch staring Shelly Long. At the beginning of the movie Greg decides he will move into the attic for privacy. Marsha is also sick of sharing a room and doesn't feel it is fair Greg gets the attic. No flipping a coin or potato sack race for those two. They instead build a elaborate house of cards to decide who will get the attic. Whoever makes the house fall loses the attic. Right in the middle of the house of cards is a deuce of clubs. Unfortunately for Greg and Marsha, Carol Brady make the house fall. Greg and Marsh end up sharing the attic and I think you have heard enough about this movie!
it's possible to hear too much about the brady bunch movie?
While in Arizona we all wanted to see Simiana on Saturday night but we were so tired. So very tired we had dinner at the hotel. My friend Dan was falling asleep at dinner. His head heading to his food but gravity or something kept waking him up. Coincidently we don't call him Dan but Simian because he's really hairy.

Enjoyed reading you and Bab's trip to Detroit!

gracias! hell (L) of a trip, that was.

Date: Thu, 23 Sep 2004
From: opihi
Subject: No "M" for Montana Tech?

Stay out of Butte then, especially on St. Paddy's, where the day starts off with a charge of dynamite and all the snowed is dyed green by the beer

ml '86

that'll go on the to-get list, thanks.
ps it snows on the 4th of july parade too
it's hot here on halloween. i guess it all evens out.

Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004
From: Eric S.
Subject: Comment from Socorro resident.


I just wanted to add a tidbit of information to your site. You mention, "Socorro calls its newspaper El Defensor Chieftain. No lie.", you might include that, however, the residents refer to it as "The Defensless Chicken". :) It's also a paper that's only updated on Wednesday and Saturday.

I really enjoyed seeing pictures of our "M Mountain" on your site, and hope to contribute with a picture of my own, once it comes around again. From the center of town, the full moon will set right over the mountain, and it's especially aw inspiring when it sets during sunrise and the mountain is burning red in the morning dawn.

Date: Thu, 27 May 2004
From: Robb L.

Ah! On my last trip I tried to find the Monrovia monogram, but I was completely unable to. However, I DID find the monogram for Duarte, which is a symbol not entirely unlike that of "The Artist". I'll forward that and the other one to you as soon as I get my bluetooth back up on my computer to transfer the file.

if it looks like the artist's symbol, it'll probably be the most ornate mountain monogram yet.

From: Dale S.
Date: Tue, 4 May 2004

Just curious if you know, or have, any info on the "L" on a mountain on the north side of Susanville, CA? I know it stands for Lassen county, but haven't been there since 1959 as a kid, and just wondering if anyone knows if it is still there??

i haven't heard of that one, but i'll post your message & maybe someone will know.

Date: Tue, 06 Apr 2004
Subject: mountain monogram trivia
From: Tom A.

Hey Deuce,

I am so stoked over finding your web site. you'll be hearing more from me from time to time.

For now, just a couple of mountain monogram facts:

I think whoever told you the V in Elfrida, AZ stands for Vision Quest was pulling your leg. The largest single building in Elfrida is Valley Union High School. As a twenty-one year resident of Cochise County I always assumed (and I think everyone else there does as well) that the V is for Valley.

i had heard that, but was unable to confirm it while i was there. thus, always inclined toward the creepy interpretation, & since i wasn't sure, i went with the vision quest interpretation. but you're probably right.
And Vision Quest exists in more places than Elfrida, so I don't see what proprietary claim they would have to the Chiricahua Mountains.
it could be slow (slow. SLOW.) takeover in progress.
Also, for many years the Bisbee High yearbook had a feature on the last page called "The "B" speaks", in which the editor always delivered some sage advice to that year's graduates as though he were the personification of the "B" on the mountain (which is called Chihuahua Hill, by the way). There was always a prominent photo of the "B" on that page as well.

Enjoying your site enormously!

that is beautiful. i'll have to check out the bisbee library for examples.

From: Robert Q.
Date: Thu, 08 Apr 2004

There is a big green V on top of Hospital Hill in Victorville, some time I'll figure out how to photograph it and send it to you for your collection of hillside letters.

From: sheri
Subject: Mountain Alphabet
Date: Sat, 27 Mar 2004

I vaguely recall a "BR" in Northern Utah
Standing for Bear River High School.

Has anyone submitted that one yet?


for some reason, that sounds familiar, but i seem not to have any photos of it. wouldn't happen to be in the area, would you?

From: Donna M.
Date: Fri, 26 Mar 2004

Dear Deuce,

Here in Tucson we are having a lot of trouble with the "A" on A Mountain. People have been painting and repainting it ever since we attacked Iraq in order to express various opinions about the war.

such is the current level of public debate in these united states...
Incredibly, the City Council has a policy that it will keep repainting the "A" red, white and blue "until the conflct in the Mideast is resolved".
so, in other words, until the stars fall from the sky into a teacup.

From: serena
Date: Fri, 2 May 2003

I bought a picture at a rummage sale (for the frame) of an aerial view of a town, with a M on the foothill in the distance. I have no idea where the town is. It appears to be a fairly small town, but has what looks like a covered arena, and some agricultural areas. Do you have any idea where I can locate the name of this area?

I got it for the frame, and am only curious about the photo. If you know anyone who collects such photos who might be interested in it, let me know.

Thanks, Serena

hrrm. i'm guessing it might be the campus at golden, colorado. not sure. anyone?

Date: Mon, 27 Jan 2003
From: Jan
Subject: Writing on mountains...

You ask how the thing with putting up letters and words started, and from your web site it seems you don't know yet.

au contraire, mein longhair. as of january 2002 we have known and proclaimed:

here's why...

I haven't bothered with all the details -- I will leave that as an "exercise for the reader" -- but I can tell you that a looong time ago some japanese chummer thought up the idea of putting a japanese sign (no really? Yes!) on a hillside north(ish) of Tokyo. As I said, this is low on details, but if you ckeck out a few Tokyo-focused tourist sites I bet you'll strike gold. Or rock, at least.

BTW, I was lead to your website by a guy being afraid to fill an aquarium with expanding foam for feat it should explode ... what's the relation to your site, where's your report of the Treacherous Exploding and Foam-filled Aquarium?

exploding plaster inevitable wagner

Date: Sun, 26 Jan 2003
From: jd
Subject: Monogram in Afghanistan?!?!

Hello and greetings from NC.

I've been an infrequent visitor to your site for some years now being a Show Low native. Now I'm a paratrooper in the U.S. Army and that's where my story begins I guess.

My unit got back from doing six months of duty in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. One day while we were searching a village I was on the second story of a house looking out pulling security for my guys. Out on the side of a hill (sound familiar?) about 3 klicks away were a bunch of light colored rocks which formed out a very short chunk of Arabic/Pashtu. Imagine my surprise. I had a disposable camera on me which I took a picture with but the distance was too far and the camera stunk so it didn't turn out upon development. What type of coup would that have been?

In the absence of a picture I hope you are at least able to add a little bit of lore to the mythology of the Mountain Monogram.

Subject: Mountain monograms!
From: lillian
Date: 13 Dec 2002


I live in San Luis Obispo, CA and was pleased to see the Cal Poly "P" on you page, but was somewhat surprised that none of the other 4 in our county (let alone the other one in the city limits!) were included.

I can get pics for you if you want. Just let me know what size is ok. And I have lots of intersting info about the Poly "P" if you'd like, as well as a much better picture of it.


Date: Tue, 3 Dec 2002
From: Richard W.

One difference in the Hespeler HappyFace is that it is "constructed," from weeds. It was cut into the hillside of what appears to be somebody's back yard. They must have a great view. The weather broke yesterday and I was able to get some photos that I'm happy with. The haze and snowfall prevented this earlier... The snow looks kind of neat.

Date: Wed, 04 Dec 2002
From: Cathy L.
Subject: Socorro letter - both "M" and "W"


I got my degree at New Mexico Tech a few years ago, and was quite pleased to see the "M" mentioned on your Mountain Monograms page. I thought you might like to hear a little modern trivia concerning it.

These days, the M can be lighted at night. I remember it being lighted often during the winter months, but they may also do it year-round. The lights are set up in two patterns - the traditional M, and also a W. The local high-school's team is the Warriors, so for high-school Homecoming, the M is lighted as a W! There's no end to the ingenuity of bored tech students, I guess :)

probably a good thing, i'd say.
I don't live in Socorro anymore, but I'll try to get a friend to take a picture for you, the next time they light the M as a W.
splendid, gracias.
I grew up in Henderson, NV, so it's also interesting to hear about the Basic B (though not see it, because your picture link is broken. Let me know if you need a new B pic, I'm sure Mom can send one by :)
(whoops. fixed.)
Anyway, thanks for maintaining such a great page!
thanks for reading & writing.
(that wasn't intended as a literacy PSA)

Date: Tue, 3 Dec 2002
From: jess

oh my god, you are an international star!!

> En el yanqui ahora les ha dado por escribir letras gigantes en las laderas de las montañas. En esta página se explica qué significa cada letra.

ok, let's see... "a yankee whore has gone dada by scrubbing giant letters on ladders in montana. in the there are significant amounts of explicit letratype."

actually, i'm kind of astounded that i *can* in fact understand the above. i don't know spanish. thank god for cognates!

> Tijdens vakanties zie je ze wel eens, van die grote letters in de bergen...Wat betekenen ze toch?

"the valkyries send tidings to you and your eels. they died while writing great letters to candace bergen. who the hell just touched me?"

From: Forrest G.
Subject: Colorado School of Mines 'M'
Date: Mon, 02 Dec 2002

Hey there,

Recently came across your site by way of memepool, and as a Mines Alum, figured I might help you out with the picture... After a bit of looking, I couldn't find any static pictures of the M, but we do have an M cam up now... It updates every 10 seconds, or so, and it's not the best quality, but it is a much better angle than you have posted.

Anyhow, good site, good information.

From: Trpster *
Subject: Mtn Mono's "E" Mountain, Elko, NV Date: Mon, 02 Dec 2002


I started a few hours ago on you Mojave Phone site. Really bummed that it is no longer there. (I grew up in the Mojave desert in a place called, Muscoy) I would have enjoyed meeting you and Wagner on a road trip.

Anywho......the reason I write is that I noticed that you did not have a photo of the monogram in Elko, NV. My hubby works for Western Wireless/Cellular One, and is on that mountain atleast once a week. Would you like some photos???

si, por favor
How about one of the Carlin "C"? (The Carlin "C" is almost half way between the Battle Mountain "BM" and the Elko "E". We live in Crescent Valley (surrounded by monograms, but do not have one of our own)
that could be fixed. got any mountains?
About that "Peanut Guy". If you can give me his name, and aprox date of birth, ect, I will see what I can do. I mostly hunt "dead people" (better than having them hunt me, no?) And may be able to find documents, ect.
well, "peter beale" is all it said on the photo, and also all that it said on the copy of the photo that the arizona historical society has. no birth (or death) date. that is one stylin' peanut suit, i gotta say.

Date: 04 Sep 2002
From: Dave M.

Here is a mountain message that I saw somewhere south of Rosarito, Mexico:

It looks like you don't count non-us entries though, so this is just for your own personal amusement.

Date: Mon, 5 Aug 2002
From: Jim H.
Subject: Letter over Orange, California

Thanks for your Mountain Monograms material. I recently been talking to someone about letters on the side of hills, so was interested to accidentally stumble on it.

There is, or used to be, a letter over Orange, California, visible as one drove up to Irvine Park along Chapman Avenue. I think it was an "O" (that may just be because it is so obvious). I haven't been out that way for years, so I don't know if it is still there. Chapman used to be a two lane country road, too....

Date: Wed, 31 Jul 2002
From: Glen E.

It had never occurred to me to wonder how the idea of putting a letter on the hill got started. I found the article a fascinating read.

With regard to the "J" on the west side of Albuquerque, it stands for St. Joseph's College. St. Joseph's changed into the University of Albuquerque in the 60's, and the University of Albuquerque closed in the 80's. That's why the J seemed brighter before - it's no longer being maintained.

Local lore has it that the students from St. Joseph's were the first to put up their letter, and that the students from UNM put the U on the east side of town in response.

maybe someone whose name starts with J should take over maintenance...

Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2002
From: Russ C.
Subject: Missing Mountain Monogram

Mayer. What about Mayer? How come we don't have Mayer?

you pose an excellent question, mister c. the answer is ... um, not sure. i'm pretty sure, actually, that i've photographed that M more than once. i don't know how i forgot to upload it. i dumb, is pretty much the answer. i'll check around for the pix. thanks for the tip. (note not TIP, as in TIPS. just so we're clear.)
I give up. What's TIPS?
You know, there's something to be said for blissful ignorance.
don't type that in view of the flowerpot
Now -that's- funny.

Date: Thu, 4 Jul 2002
From: Merle M.
Subject: "P" to "R"

Hello again. I'm writing with new of a recent change in the local San Marcos "P". Somebody in the last few weeks has added a leg, and it's now an "R"! Can't figure out what "R" would stand for - the "P" was for Palomar College, located immediately below Owens Peak, where the letter is located.

maybe r is for rodney. which would be the rodney who added the leg. if his name was rodney. i'm going on faith, here.

Date: Fri, 18 Jan 2002
From: Rob Cockerham

This is on the north mountain near Gallipoli on the way from Eceabat to Canakkale in Turkey. I was crossing the Dardanelles. I don't know what it says, but I thought of you the instant I saw it.

with outside help, the translation has been found. it's an excerpt from a poem about the battle of gallipoli:

Dur yolcu ! Bilmeden gelip bastigin...
(Traveller, halt ! The soil you tread...)
Bu toprak bir devrin battigi yerdir
(Once witnessed the end of an era)
Egil de kulak ver, bu sessiz yigin...
(Listen ! In this quiet mound...)
Bir vatan kalbinin attagi yerdir
(There once beat the heart of a nation)

rob responds:

Ah! Cool! Great work. Boy, you get all kinds of stuff along these lines, don't cha?

I obviously need to start work on a dot-matrix mountain monogram rock-layer.
The printer itself will be cheap, but look out for those $8,000 rock cartridges.

Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2002
From: Mark
Subject: Long Man of Wilmington

Interesting to come across your site on mountain monograms.... I grew up near Wilmington in the UK which has its own carving - the Long Man - dating back between 600 and 1800 years depending on who you believe. I guess there is some sort of primal urge in humans to make their mark and define their territory, eh?

i figured that the long man was less civic/school pride, more "we killed this guy maybe we make big ol' guy we kill even more guys yum who stole the fork?"
:-) well my ancestors were savage but not that bad eh? Nobody really knows cos of course very little written history of the time - and that was written by the victors. But probably political or religious, so not much different from school pride. "We da big men!" Could be offerings to gods or marking big victory, white horses in wiltshire were allegedly tied in with Alfred's victories over the Vikings, who knows. Pagans tend to have their ideas, archaeologists theirs. But I like the idea that the concept is strong enough that people should choose to keep the symbols going for over a thousand years, renewing them. Funniest is probably the Cerne Abbas giant that stayed pretty well the same for 1500 years til the Victorians turned up then they got sniffy about him having a huge erect penis ... I think they didn't put a loincloth on though.

One of several examples of hill carvings in the UK. Also check out the Westbury White Horse, reputedly carved to celebrate a battle won by Alfred the Great.

keep up the great site, thanks for sharing it with us.

From: Emlyn K Helicopter
Subject: mountain monogram (almost)
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002


Please find a link below to the 'Whiteleaf Cross' hill-carving page:

Not a monogram as such, and its not a mountain, more a hill. But it's bloody weird. Good to get drunk and 'rolly-pole-y' down*.

Theres loads of this stuff in England - yet no one in Princess Risborough (the town below the carving) seems to care or even see the cross. No one knows where it came from, and no one gives a damn. Well, there it is. Steep, and bloody big once you get on it.

i remarked recently that soon i'll wind up adding the nazca lines to the mt. monogram project...

From: Lucy T.
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2002

looking for another B? there's one on the hill in Burbank...right here in L.A.

if you're going east on olive the B is pretty much straight ahead, up on the hill. it's not terribly visible. how to hike up to it, i have no clue.

you can get a good photo from the street....I was wrong about from where though...go east on Magnolia and when you're crossing San Fernando through Glenoaks it is very visible up and to the right on the hill. You might be able to see it closer if you go up to the Castaway or the golf course...but I haven't checked.

Date: Fri, 18 Jan 2002
From: Rob Cockerham

Does anyone else find this excerpt funny?

"They front on the Orient....Our wantonness would be in the eyes of the world."

well, i certainly do. but then, i am a long-time interested observer of wantonness.

From: Lenadams Dorris
Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002


I've been enjoying the portion of your site dedicated to hillside letters. I grew up in Las Vegas, NV, the center of a region with several letters:

  1. B for Basic in Henderson, now used by Basic High School but originally done for the whole town of Basic, which changed its name to Henderson after WWII;

  2. G in the little town of Goodsprings

  3. Another B for Blue Diamond, a little town west of Vegas

  4. Yet another B for the town of Beatty, north of Vegas

  5. And yet another B for Boulder City, on the way to Hoover Dam
There used to be an S in Searchlight, a P in Pahrump, an O in Overton, a V in Bunkerville (Virgin Valley), an M in Moapa and an N outside Nellis Air Force Base, but I haven't seen any of these in recent years and I'm not sure if they are still around. If I get out and about this spring, I'll be sure to take photos and send them to you.

More meaningful to me than any of these was the gigantic peace symbol that adorned Sunrise/Frenchman Mountain which overlooks the Vegas Valley on the east. The symbol was composed of whitewashed rocks about a foot in diameter, and was there from about 1969 to 1980. I left town for a few years and when I came back in the mid 80's it was gone...removed, I expect, by the BLM. In the early 70's, my friend George Kelly, who was a few years older than me (old enough to drive) and who was one of the original creators of the symbol, would take me up there in the summer to repaint the rocks.

In recent years some of us have discussed trying to put it back. It was really quite magnificent. Your site has fired me up about it, so maybe you'll soon have a photo of a peace symbol to add to the collection.

better yet an X. how about an X? a giant X. we all like Xs. okay, it's the final letter i need, and i doubt that xenia, ohio has one...
This X problem has got to be resolved...I can see that already. I'll see what can be done. After all, if any town deserves an "X" it's Vegas (as in X-rated, X-files and X-tremely weird).
i will reserve a spot in the mt. monograms hall of fame ...

Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002
From: Lloyd Dunn

now i must tell you about a film i saw at the karlovy vary film festival last summer. it was an albanian film called 'slogany' ('slogans') and it was made sometime in the last couple of years. it was a good film, and gave good insight about life under albanian socialism.

it was about school projects to form slogans out of white rocks on the hillsides, slogans that, of course, glorified socialism. the film (based on historical fact) showed how this created hardship for the village dwellers, forced by their socialist leadership to go along with this project.

an outspoken teacher at the school was essentially punished for being less than enthusiastic about the party line by being given a very long slogan to complete, while another teacher (coincidentally the mistress of the party chief) was given a very short one.

so you get the idea of the conflict that generates dramatic tension here.

i just thought you might be interested, since formally at least, there is a parallel with your excellent mountain monograms exploration.

thanks, lloyd, i appreciate that. maybe it'll be possible for someone (perhaps an albanian reader) to send a tape of that film...

Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002
From: Andria

That's GREAT!

And I'm reminded of what a loser I am with the MM's I've shot and neglected to get to you. Somewhere is a roll of film with K(ingman?)-L(aguna Pueblo)-M(agdalena), and I also recently took some of Wagon Mound, NM's WM. Because I like the two-letter ones. (Laguna Pueblo is a LA, I think.)

I also intended to get real pictures of Tucumcari's T when I was headed east on I-40 before the holidays, but it's apparently unapparent in that direction. And I also need to go back to 666 and get those two weird ones I saw over the summer.

Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2002
From: Audra

I really like the Mountain Monograms stuff. Although I think it sucks that the first pic of ASU's A is so ugly. Point made below though about construction. I still love that A.

Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2002
From: larry m.
Subject: Re: big oroville O

I just reviewed your web site and you have my congratulations! What a really interesting site. How long have you been collecting these site photos?

oh, a number of years now. the site's been up for about five years or so.

Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2002
From: Your Deadbeat Neighbor
Subject: Dirt on the Dirty Rocks.

I'm up here in Eastern WA, so getting the elusive O that is up here might be possible. I am however concerned that since we have snow up here it could currently be obscured.

Let me know what you have on it, and I'll schedule up a hunting party.

excellent. well, i am going by a map with dots on it, and from the dot in question, i would say the O is in oroville, washington. maybe the chamber of commerce would know, but that's my guess.

Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2001
From: Karl L.

wow, a site aboout mountain monograms. i guess i'm not surprised it exists. it's really, really clever. you did a good job..

gracias. and here i am, considering giving it a facelift -- now that there are a lot of photos, it's getting annoying having so many on single pages.
i found it while searching for "grossmont" in the google image search. i went to grossmont high school. it's a very nice G. thing is, it's not in the town of grossmont like you have listed, the high school actually sits on the border of two san diego suburbs:
thanks. i'll have to note that for the record
el cajon, and la mesa (the coffin and the table, respectively).
sounds like a good title for a bergman film. too bad he's retired.
also, i went to arizona state! way to represent. funny too, cause shortly after the sept. 11th tragedies, something got me thinking about ol' A mountain and i KNEW they'd have to give it the ol' flag-over. makes sense.
tucson's A has undergone the same treatment, btw. but the ASU "A" is back to its golden self.
the picture of tucson is gorgeous. but it looks suspiciously like gila bend, considering the sign for I-10...doesn't that go from los angeles,
through phoenix,
and out to globe or something? ... no. from the east valley to globe you take the 60.
i thought I-8 went to tucson, from san diego,
I-8 goes to I-10 (they meet up at casa grande; I-8 goes past gila bend)
going to el paso.
that's I-10.
oh well.
what sort of attitude is that for a limo driver?

you are a limo driver, aren't you?

cool site!

Date: Sun, 18 Nov 2001
From: Merle
Subject: Yes, more Mountain Monograms...

I'm off on yet another road trip, this time to Texas and Louisiana. I've already captured four mountain monograms: in El Paso ("C" and "e" - or something like an "e"), "SB" in Sierra Blanca, and "V" in Van Horn, and will be keeping an eye out for others along the way. There's actually two "C" monograms in El Paso - one on either side of the same mountain above downtown, with the eastern one being in better shape. I'll forward the snapshots when I return in early December.

Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001
From: Eric N.
Subject: Mountain Monograms in Northern Nevada

I grew up south of Reno in Nevada, and there were a bunch up there. I don't go back often, but I'll attempt to snap some photos next time. (Or make it a burning man quest.) There's the "N" north of UNR in Reno; the "R" near Reed High School in Sparks; the "G" near Galena High School south of Reno off of US395; the "VC" on the side of the mountain in Virginia City; the "C" on the hill near Carson High School in Carson City; and the "S" for Stewart, a region in southern Carson City that used to have an indian school by that name. Further south on US395 one finds a faint "D" for Douglas (both county and high school); about 50 miles due east is a little farm town called Yerington - they have a "Y" up on the hill; and southwest of Yerington on a hillside above the tiny hamlet of Wellington is a "SV", for Smith Valley High School. Yee-argh.

especially needed is that "N!" anyone near reno able to go out & snap a photo of it for the "T-E-A-M" in which there is an "I" ... por favor?

Date: Thu, 23 Aug 2001
From: Russ C.
Subject: Miss Information Abounds

My giant research department is very responsive, if not very helpful. The following just in from my pop, who is also an old-timer living in Mesa. FYI, the cast of characters MAC = my mom; Ben = the previously mentioned 80-something pilot guy.

MAC called Ben, who is supposed to know everything, and he told her it [the PHOENIX message] was put up by the Civil Air Patrol during the war because they were losing a lot of planes. I would take that with a great big salt pill, because I've seen a couple of conflicting stories about it. Clay Thompson talked about it in his column some time ago, and then just a week or so ago in the Sunday paper there was an article by a park ranger up at the Usery Pass park or one adjacent to it that has that sign on it. That article had a couple of conflicting stories about the sign, and I don't believe either of them coincided with the Clay Thompson version.

So, I don't think you know the real skinny yet. Make up your own version and let me see it and I'll spread it around!

Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2001
From: Russ C.

Just got back from a confluence hunting mission in western Colorado, which also turned up a few Mountain Monograms. 'P' is for Paonia, CO; 'H' is for Hotchkiss CO; and 'W' is for Western State College in Gunnison, CO. Somebody said the 'W' does or did at one time hold some kind of record for size. The satellite photo shows it to be about 100 meters wide. That seems big to me, but I don't know how it compares with other MMs. Perhaps someone on your giant research staff could look into that.

our giant research staff is currently busy calculating how many amy grant's mandibles can dance on the head of kardinaal danneels. but when they're finished, they'll turn their attention in this direction. i feel sure of it.

From: Jessica in Chi
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2001

I too, have seen a "b" on the landscape of the Mojave desert. On your many trips through there you should have, at one time or another, been through the town of Boron. On a hill on the northside of the freeway is a big white letter "b". Painted every year by the new incoming freshman class. Although I don't have a picture to send to you I just didn't want my little town to be left out. I should be venturing home sometime soon ( I live in chicago now) and when I do I will take the opportunity to get a picture for you. Love the site.....keep up all the good work.

Yours Truly, jessica

do the upperclassmen abuse them while they're painting? that seems to be a school tradition practically everywhere
yes of course we abuse them...... it wouldn't be as much fun if we didn't. But we don't leave the abuse just to the painting of the B. We liked to abuse them all the time. Isn't that what high school is all about?

Date: Fri, 8 Jun 2001
From: Heather

I like the letter-on-the-mountain website. in missoula there are three high schools and a university, so the town is surrounded by letters on different mountains: L, S, H, and M. how stupid is that?

stupid? STUPID??
when I was in high school there was always a raging debate going on between the environmentally correct people (anti-letter) and the school spirit people (pro-letter). the debate was further intensified when the private catholic high school, Loyola, who had in the past allowed their L to decay into nothingness due to apathy, laziness, environmental concerns, or a combination of all of the above, decided to reinvigorate school spirit and rebuild their L.
(i suggested to cynthia, heather's friend, that heather might photograph these four mountain monograms. cynthia relayed heather's response:)
I don't have any plans to go to Missoula any time soon. Maybe I can get my sister or a friend to take the pictures.

Since there is an L and an M on consecutive mountains, left to right, my friends and I always thought we should get rid of the S and H and replace them with N O P. har de har har

there used to be a band i liked a lot called LMNOP. they did "sandwich time for the smaller children." i wish i could find an mp3 of that song. anyone? bueller? fievet?

From: Joel K.
Subject: Basic High School
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001

I saw your "mountain monograms" page and can explain Basic High... Basic was Henderson, NV's original name (I think the town was named after a nearby mine). SO, Basic High School was named for the town, and not the students :-) When the town changed it's name to Henderson, the high school did not change with... hence the name, and the "B"

Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2000
From: Merle M.

I was looking around the web for a list of towns with letters on hillsides, and ran across your pages on mountain monograms. I'm sure there's a page about every possible topic if you look hard enough!

There's a monogram here in San Diego County about a mile from my home, and another that I believe is no longer maintained.

In San Marcos there is a giant "P" on Owens Peak which stands for "Palomar College" (a community college).

There was once another giant letter, in the city of San Diego, on Cowles Mountain. It was "S" for San Diego State University, and was first painted in 1931. Growing up in San Diego we always called it "S Mountain". The mountain is now in the middle of a big natural park, so maintenance on it stopped in the early 80's. But this article talks about it being restored (I don't know if it has been - haven't been down that way lately). It isn't on the 1996 Terraserver images, but the article is from 1998, so it may have been restored since then.

From: Neil
Subject: Randum
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 2000

I have a few mountain monograms fer ya....My ol hometown....Y for Yucaipa, and R fer Redlands. Actually there is another mountain monogram nearby (monogram wonderland) only it's naturally formed and it is a large arrowhead. It's also used on the Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water.I have a pikchur, should scan it and sendit to ya. Burningman was good to us, we with our motorized upside down anatomically correct sheep AKA "Ewe-Mongous". New atmosphere there this year.

From: Alan H.
Subject: Mountain Monograms Explanation
Date: Mon, 18 Sep 2000

Herr Wagner,

I'm fairly certain that those letters are a holdover from days gone by when air navigation was less sophisticated. Civic pride played a part too, nein? "I'm out here in the middle of nowhere; therefore I will deface this mountain on a Wagnerian scale!" Sorry, statuette, am I slandering you? Or is it libel, liebling?

p.s. Good site. Many a guffaw I let involuntarily slip.

Date: Fri, 8 Sep 2000
From: Cynthia C.

hey ho.. i just wanted to tell you that i got a mountain monogram for you. it's not so hot, but it's the M for missoula.. but I'm thinking that it's for a town before missoula.

Date: Tue, 22 Aug 2000
From: Gila Mon

Hey Deuce,

I am happy to say that I got another Mt Mono, an "S" for Salida, CO.
I hope you don't have it already... I haven't checked.

From: GoodBadBen
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000
Subject: Mountain Monograms in Henderson, Nevada

I enjoyed the pics and article concerning the B for Henderson. I grew up in Henderson and graduated from Basic High. The article pondered why the B instead of an H, and why Basic High was named Basic. Basic is the original name of Henderson. It's been a long time so my facts my not all be straight, but the town of Basic was established during WWII to help with the war effort. I'm sure you noticed the industry there. Somehow it became Henderson. I don't know when or why.

There is a tradition in many Nevada schools of painting the first letter of the school on a nearby mountain. And as the article stated many towns do the same. I'm sure there's also one on Sunrise Mountain in Vegas that stood for Bonanza High.

There are two Bs in for Burkholder Jr. High, and the other For Basic High. Every year when i attended those schools, one a specified day, students could be excused from school with parental permission to walk up and help paint the B.

Basic High School had a rivalry going with Boulder City High School. One day in 1977, Boulder High students changed the B behind Basic High to a P. We couldn't let them get away with that so a bunch of us drove to Boulder City soon after with the intent to paint their B pink. We got about halfway done before we noticed a line of about 15 cars/trucks driving through the desert heading in our direction. We were vastly outnumbered so we jumped into our four vehicles and made our escape. There were some exciting car chases through Boulder City that day, but we got away.

Anyway, thought I'd share that with ya. Cool Website, keep up the good work.

From: Kristen B.
Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2000

There is a small range of mountains near an unspecified University of California. On this mountain is a large "C" presumably standing for California. Periodically this "C" would become an "L". On closer inspection it was noted that certain parts of the "C" were painted with brown paint to become an "L". Now some people believed it was some silly frat up to their tricks. However, I personally don't think frat boys could possibly make a difficult ascent like that, drunk or not.

Now, why an "L"? Oh, everyone has their own theories. One could ask, "why not?" as easily as you ask "why?" Beauty, eh?

Date: Sun, 25 Jun 2000
From: Vickie D.

I do not have an actual personal picture of this, but do you know that there is a monogram at the base of a mountain near Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas??? The Sul Ross Website shows a picture of the campus with the monogram clearly shown...

The monogram is "SR"...anyways, it's there if you don't have it.

thanks -- we'll contact the webmaster & see whether they'll let us use the photo.

Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2000
From: Polly
Subject: Re "T" Mountain - Trona, CA

After speaking with you by phone, I pulled up your webpage - the picture you have referring to "T" Mountain located in Trona, CA is not our "T" Mountain. The top of the T on our mountain is located a ways from the top of mountain crest - unlike the photo you display. Also, a canyon leads up to the "T" which does not exsist in your photo. If you would like, I will try to get a photo of our "T" Mountain for your webpage.

Just to give a bit of history of our mountain, the "T" was put in place during the school year of 1942-43 (school facility was built in 1941). The tradition since that time has been that the Senior Class hikes up the canyon each year at Homecoming to give the "T" a new coat of whitewash. Homecoming is both a Friday and Saturday event - beginning with Coronation held on Friday evening, followed by "T" lighting and bonfire. The "T" lighting consists of the entire "T" being outlined with 30-minute flares (donated by the local Railway Company) which are put in place by members of the Freshman Class hiking up after school on Friday. When the signal is given, they scurry around lighting the flares which makes for a beautiful sight on the ground! Thus, Homecoming Weekend has begun!

Anyway, I'll step down from my soapbox - I'm sure you didn't want a history lesson of the area! The offer of photo does stand should you want a picture.

HS Secretary

we'd love to have a photo of the REAL Trona T, thank you.
(and thank you for telling the history of the monogram. we welcome any information about mountain monograms.)

From: Steve S.
Subject: Senate Bill
Date: Wed, 31 May 2000

This just in...

The BLM, in cooperation the National Park Service and various state and county authorities, is campaigning to introduce (to the U.S. Congress) Senate Bill #2880 to remove all those "huge letters on the sides of mountains" known to exist in the continental United States. The act is sited as the "Mountain Monogram Deterrence Act of 2000".

A spokesperson for the BLM says that record numbers of U.S. citizens took to the highways this past Memorial Day Weekend for the sole purpose of visiting these sites.

The BLM's official statement reads "increased public traffic has a negative impact on the National environment."

The bureau plans to utilize giant excavators, similar to the ones used in strip mining operations, to remove the monograms and truck them in in their entirety to an undisclosed location close to Nevada's Black Rock Desert.

When asked about what would be done about the ugly scars left as a result of the removal of the monograms, Robert Stanton of the National Park Service said "dunno, but they might be good locations for things like gas stations and mini malls".

From: Rob
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000

Howdy, this here is Rob the Wop. We've met at the Stripper bingos and Burning Man and other such.

of course, sir. even if we could remember nothing else, we couldn't forget that great ciappino you made at burning man 99. unbelievable -- we can still taste it.
Kind of perusing your sight and seen the desert "mountain monograms". Yelp, I figured I'ld tell you about another one, I'll be sure to get a picture of it when we hit the town in July (family get toghether- I hate the place).

There is a giant "B" on the mountain, that stands for Burroughs. It's the local high school in Ridgecrest, CA. The mountain itself cannot be accessed without a secret clearance.

Huh? You ask, well Ridgecrest is a very creepy place, so I'ld figure I'ld tell you about it.

Ridgecrest basically was built around a naval base called NAWCWD or Naval Air Warfare China Lake, Weapons division. The closest town near it would be Lancaster- which is about an 90 miles away. Death Valley is only about 30 miles, in a straight line. It's basically a "think-tank" enviroment for developing really nasty things to toss at folks. Occasionally unexploded ordanance are found in the city from testing done way back when. "NAWCWD CHINA LAKE ENCOMPASSES OVER 1.1 MILLION ACRES and lies under some 17,000 square miles of joint-service restricted airspace" - Thats straight from their "friendly" webpage. It's a big mo-fo that encompasses a hilly range that has many valleys, and a lot of Top Secret weird shit. The base has about 7,000 folks and the town of Ridgecrest near it has about 30,000. They claim to have the highest "per capita" ratio of PhD's per population.

that can't be good ...
Unfortunately they are all pasty white and afraid of the sun from being stuck in labs for long periods of time. When I work there doing computer networking sctuff, I went out to a building that was shaped kind of funny. It was a very long building with a very wide, very high hallway in the middle- and then a bunch of small offices on either side of the hallway. The doorways on either end were double doors about 10ft high and about 10ft wide. When I asked about the odd shape, one of the guys took me to the back doors and opened them up. There was a giant man-made hill right outside the back door, with a flat cliff face facing the back doors. He then showed me some picture on a wall showing them luanching a FUCKING MISSLE FROM THE FRONT DOOR AREA INTO THE GOD-DAMN HILL!!! Well, that'd be a fucked up thing to get hit with while stumbling out of your office to get a cup of coffee, now wouldn't it?
dunno ... might still be better than some days at work ...
Anyway, here's some interesting things about this place. Charles Manson went to Burrough's High School. His family (real one)
still lives somewhere out near a smaller town Trona, that is about 20 miles away.
didn't know he still had any (real) family left.
Their claim to fame is a chemical plant that pumps toxic chemicals from underground onto a dry lake. They then wait for it to dry in the sun, scrape it up with bulldozers, and process it. There's about 500 people living around there and a Harley shop for all the bikers that live out there. They're there because the chemical plant smells hide their meth labs. A lot of weird shit happens out there.

Another small town 15 miles away called Johanesburg ( about 150 people) has the only other industry near it. There is a gold mine that is somewhat profiable, I guess. They use the old- pump cyanic acid in, pump it out onto the land, then kinda wash it off a little. Mining has been done in that area since 18something. Old mines abound all over. Oh and there was an active Satanic group in the small town. I grew up with a couple members, they always were able to get a hold of the best dope.

Between the chemical plant, gold mine, and underground labs on base- I'm surprised I didn't grow an extra arm or two from drinking the water. There was a book that I got about the place written by a guy named "Pops" Lufedwink (something like that), called Mojave Desert Ramblings. Basically, when the Navy first wanted to use the land for testing purposes, they first sent Pops out (then young) to keep folks off the range. He spent 15 years alone except for a donkey, a jeep, and a radio (they would call once a week)- patroling a 30x40 mile area and a 30x60 mile area. In his journeys a met a lot of really weird fuckers living alone out in the desert hills. Seldom Seen Slim was the sole occupant of Ballart, CA and refused to give anyone information about who he was or when/where he was born. Another guy, a miner, stayed alone and built musical instruments like guitars and violins out of rock. And lastly, a gentleman named Burroughs spent 20 years of his life, until his death, digging a tunnel through a mountain. He would come into the town, work for enough food and supplies for him and his burroughs- and travel back out to his mountain to continue digging by hand. He died 20 yards short of the tunnel completion. Luckily a friend went up and finished the job. Crazy bastards seem to abound in the desert for some odd reason, but you have to find the ones living out of town in the middle of the desert.

I always read Stephen King novels about weird towns in the desert and though of how bland the background of them were. In Ridgecrest, there has always been a weird undercurrent.

know exactly what you mean, hailing from a small desert town
Folks walking into barber shops and blowing other folks heads off while they were getting a haircut. The fact that it was the center for the most earthquakes in 1997 (I think?). The cops getting busted (twice in 8 years) for child molestation and implicated in liquor store robberies and killings. Odd when you think of the size of the town and the fact that- you don't hear about this shit outside of Ridgecrest. When top secret fighter planes crash into mountains in the town, there is an odd silence in the news community. Maybe a blurb, but it gets dropped faster than you can say "What was that loud noise?"

Fucked place to live, but interested place when you dig into it's "unofficial" history. Oh and in 1980 sometime it was the fourth biggest drug area in California- at 27k people, more weird shit. Ifins you're interested in weird desert stuff- the Mojave Desert Ramblings book is pretty odd reading. Figured you might like to hear about this stuff.

i'll check that out, for sure
I'll send you a pic of the mountain in July.
danke, sir. don't get arrested taking it!

Date: Tue, 9 May 2000
From: Nick H.
Subject: Monogram Mtn "A" in Las Cruces, NM

I'll see if I can get a picture, but Tortugas Mountain (locally, "A Mountain") has a large whitewashed rock "A" on it, for the New Mexico State University Aggies, which campus it overlooks.

Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000
From: Lazlo Nibble

According to my copy of New Mexico Place Names, Tucumcari is probably from the Comanche word "tukamukaru," or "to lie in wait for [someone or something] to approach", with the Comanches using this mountain as a lookout point. If the photos come out, I'll probably have Los Lunas and Pojoaque monograms for you next week.

From: Nick
Date: Sun, 12 Mar 2000
Subject: Awesome site/Mountain monos

Deucedude-I'm diggin the site! As a native Las Vegan(the few, the proud, the natives) and one who appreciates Mojave desert culture(there is some, I tell you, and your site shows two of its key pieces-monograms and The Booth), i've gotta say, you've done a great job.

Mountain monograms-It's just part of the culture. When you're in a small town like Hawthorne or Henderson(before suburbia happened to Nevada) or Mesquite or Saint George(there's a D for Dixie just west of town), what else are you going to do? Those, the phone booth, dirt roads, evil BLM rangers of DEATH, that's what makes the desert the desert.

Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2000
From: Mark O.
Subject: MMs in Colorado

I love your mtn. monograms site! I grew up in Colorado, so I always just thought every town had a letter on the hill, just like every town has a post office and a baseball field. Now I live in Louisiana, where we don't even have mountains. Sigh. At least we have daiquiris. Anyway, a couple notes of interest ... for your page on towns that have two or more letters, there is Golden, Colorado, which has an "M" for "Colorado School of Mines" ["World's Foremost School of Minerals Engineering"] and a "G" for "Golden", or else it's a "C" for "Coors" -- I can't remember which. In Fort Collins there is a big "A" on the hill, which stands for "Colorado Agricultural & Mechanical College", which long ago was renamed Colorado State University, and sometimes bad people talk about changing the "A" to something else, like a ram's head (CSU's mascot), but so far, the forces of good have prevailed. In Boulder, there are these huge rock formations called the Flatirons, which look a lot like the sandstone slabs at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, except even bigger and cooler -- anyway -- long ago, somebody climbed up there at considerable risk of life and limb and spray-painted "CU", for "Colorado University", in huge white letters. Since then, it has been spray-painted pink, so as to blend in with the pink sandstone. Spray-painting existing boulders is not really the same as heaping up small rocks, I suppose. I'm pretty sure there is a letter above Lyons, Colorado, but I don't remember whether it is an "L" or something else. There is a huge cross made out of lightbulbs above Denver.

From: tarin
Date Sun, 05 Mar 2000

i'm from west la (ca), but while visiting a friend in riverside, i thought of your mountain monogram project..

from where im sitting right now, in riverside, i can see the side of a mountain (hill? is it over 2000 feet?) with a big yellow C on it. according to my friend, it stands for "canyon crest" which is the name of the general area.

next roll of film that gets developed will have the pictures on it.

excellent, thanks. we'll put them right up.

From: Amanda
Date Sun, 13 Feb 2000

I enjoyed your mountain monograms. I moved to Phoenix (then Tempe) Arizona from Birmingham England in 1976 (when Phoenix really was great - ie not many people there) and one of the first things I noticed was the mountain monogram in Tempe. On a trip to California, we saw a monogram MB (in Morro Bay of course) and thought it stood for Michael B. (my husband's name) and we thought this was an OMEN so we moved there!We loved it there. What a great place to live. ANyway, we're not there now but that's another story....anyway, thanks. I'm still attached to Phoenix...2 beautiful daughters living there and the younger one is dating Jesus....can't ask for a better boyfriend than that I say.

I come back to Phoenix reasonably regulary and it scares and saddens me. Last time I came, May 1999, we climbed Squaw Peak and I couldn't believe the sprawl. Mein Gott, I thought...what the hell. Remember when Four Peaks (? Lost Dutchman mountain area) was WAY OUT THERE ! now it seems to be right on the edge of town.

Anyway, I digress, it was the A on the hill, you can hardly call it a mountain, by the flour mill on Mill Ave, not the T on the butte that I was refering to. I loved Tempe. It was great living there. Michael and I got married at the First Congregational Church there in old Tempe. We had so much fun and had such great friends there. I came to Phoenix in 76. I really came just for the Bicentennial party and I loved it so much I never went home. (which gives you some clue to my personality) I was in total culture shock for three months, then, when the time came to leave, I just couldn't. It was such a bitchin' place to live. It was beyond cool! (ain't that the truth.) We used to go up to the Verde Valley a lot and Jerome. We had a great bunch of friends who lived in the valley and we helped build a couple of houses up there. When I came to Arizona, I couldn't believe that people actually chose to LIVE THERE in the SUMMER! Amazing! I thought Arizona was a Hollywood back lot! and all it was good for was making movies! (forgive me, I was an ignorant English person, what did I know !) Anyway, I left England and my college studies (Ecclesiastical Embroidery was one of my areas of study)and came to Phoenix and got a job as a Playboy Bunny. Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous...It was great fun though. I was only there for a year but it was an interesting experience.

When Michael and I eventually went to the San Luis Obispo area we went to look around and see if we might want to move there. When we saw the MB monogram we really did think it was a good omen. SO, while that wasn't the total reason for moving there, it did kinda put the icing on the cake of our decision.

I have really enjoyed your web site by the way. The phone box business is really wild and I took the story of it from the Seattle newspaper to England to share with friends there. They loved it. My feeling is this This is why I love living in AMerica. The Mojave Phonebox is a perfect illustration to me of free spirited Americans finding great enjoyment in really dopey off the wall stuff. Americans know how to have fun and when they embrace something they don't mess about. They take it to the limit. I love that. It makes my heart feel good. The fact that you are in Tempe just serves to make it that much better and that much more relevant to me. That was my stomping ground !

Bunny Amanda

Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2000
From: James P.
Subject: Mountain Monograms of Missoula, MT

I myself have often wondered where the tradition of the mountain monogram comes from. I can offer no explaination except that, perhaps, a renegade flying monkey from the Wizard of Oz thought it would be a hilarious joke. I, however, am less than enthused about the whole "tradition". I must inform you that in Missoula, Mt we have two monogram's. One of them, "the L", sits on Mount Jumbo, and stands for our local Catholic high school, Loyola. The second, the more famous of the two, is "the M". It sits right behind the University of Montana and is a popular place to find local crazy's getting in shape by running up and down it's zigzaged path. Never will I run up the L or the M, never!

From: Glen T.
Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2000
Subject: Mountain Monogram in Henderson

I've been reading through your website today and I thought I'd pass a bit of information your way regarding the "B's" above Hooterville, aka Henderson, Nevada.

Way back when the town was originally founded, back before the building of Hoover Dam, it was known as "Basic." I wish I knew why they chose this name, but, alas I don't. "Basic" is also the name of the original high school in Henderson. That's right, it's your "Basic High School."

you saw wagner at basic high school, yes?
In fact, that industrial plant located due north of the convergence site is called, you guessed it, "Basic Industrial Plant." So, I guess it's true when you say that Henderson is populated with a lot of "Basic" people!

Now, to the "B's." The one located to the east is the "B" for Basic High School. I know that because it is easily viewable from the school's football field, which is on the southeast side of Henderson. Now, as best I can ascertain, the "B" to the west has one of two possible explanations. I doubt this first one is the correct explanation, but it could be for the mountain that it is on, called "Black Mountain." The other possible explanation, and the one I believe is correct, is that it is for the junior high school located at the base of the mountain, called Burkholder Jr. High.

Well, I hope that clarifies the "B's" of Henderson for you.

i was told by a school bus driver that the western B is above the original site of basic high school, which was demolished to make way for that red-tile roof monstrosity of a neighborhood.
I just now got off the phone with a nice lady at Basic High School who went to the school many years ago. She told me that the original site of Basic was just south of downtown Henderson on Water Street, and that the school moved to what is now Burkholder Junior High back in the '50's. That's the school that's on the other side of the freeway at the base of the western B. Basic High moved out of that location and into their current site back in the early '70's. Since the old school is still there, it was not "demolished" for that neighborhood. Also, most of those houses immediately below the B have only been built in the last 10 years or so.

From: Bill C.
Subject: sentinal peak ("A mountain" in tucson)
Date Tue, 18 Jan 2000

A coworker, knowing I'm a transplanted native Tucsonan, forwarded me your mountain monogram site and I must say I enjoyed it immensely. But what surprised me the most is that no one knew the origin of Tucson's "A" mountain. Here is my take (gleaned from a [newspaper] which I read while visiting Tucson over the recent holidays)

Tucson, the original capitol of Arizona (in fact pretty much the original anything with European influences in Arizona) was also the site of the territory's first accredited university (The University of Arizona). After winning one of their first big football games some wacky college kids with misplaced hormones and adrenaline climbed up Sentinel Peak, due west of Tucson's downtown, and made a huge "A" up there out of existing rocks. Ever since, various groups, mostly college frat/sorority types (of which the UofA has no shortage of, for better or for worse) go up there and whitewash the rocks. I cant recall the exact year that the "A" was built, however I know that it was quite a while ago, as in turn of the century (the UofA was established in 1885, if I'm not mistaken. I'm a pretty lousy alumni...).

Although I've always considered "school spirit" and other such wampeters and granfalloons meaningless, I must say that I was slightly aghast to see that the "A" that your fine website featured was the sickly yellow of some northern land "A". At first I assumed that it was the photo was of the work of those rascal ASU frat-boys, who like to regularly paint the Sentinel Peak "A" the yellow of ASU. But when I noticed that your snail mail address was in Tempe, ASU's backyard, I realized that this was likely no fluke.

One last note These days I call San Francisco home and I must second the observation that "Dell A." posted previously, that San Bruno Mtn just south of SF boasts quite an impressive monogram. "SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO THE INDUSTRIAL CITY" must be almost visible from the moon. I formerly resided in one of Tucson's downtown "barrios" and regularly enjoyed bicycling up "A Mountain". These days I regularly bicycle up San Bruno Mtn (a considerably more formidable task). Thank you for pointing out a correlation here that I may not ever have observed myself.

Date Mon, 17 Jan 2000
From michael l.

reading through the reader responses, i know that this one has been mentioned, but I wanted to find it anyway to refresh my memory... i'm a native new jerseyan, but when i was 13 my family drove cross-country and i vividly remember the J for Jerome. it was the only object to look at for a particularly long, dull stretch of desert roadtrip, and we'd exhausted all the travel games. someone told us that the monograms were to identify towns during the seat-of-the-pants era of aviation navigation. but that's all i have to go on, and hell, i'm an east coaster, so what do i know?

but here's the J in a USGS aerial photo

michael l. (sidekick of dj 'tine)

Date Thu, 13 Jan 2000
From Jeremy B.
Subject A Mountain, Tucson

I quite enjoyed your collection of Mountain Monograms! Having grown up in Phoenix, I'd witnessed many of them firsthand. Now, alas, I live in Alabama where the mountains have too many damn trees and too much kudzu on them to make for good painting. Instead, we've got big letters inscribed on water towers.


I noted with interest that you're still working on including Tucson's A Mountain. Last summer I lived in downtown Tucson, within spitting distance of the A. Snapped the attached photo, which you're welcome to use. Sorry that the A is not so prominent in the photo. I was trying to set its context rather than highlight it. And I didn't have a telephoto lens.

Still, I thought you might like it.

Sorry I don't have any anecdotes to relate about how it gets painted or by whom or how the tradition started . . .

the frustrating thing for me is that i *have* a photo of wagner with that A. it's somewhere in this mound of thousands of wagner photos. i just have to get off my rear & dig through them. but before i do that, i have to visit jerome's J ...

From Joseph N.
Date Wed, 12 Jan 2000

why mountain monograms

i was in peru in the late 80's, and words and symbols were created in the high hills surrounding cuzco and lima (the only places i went) much the same way as these mountain monograms. they were usually poitical slogans though. my chronological excavation of this phenomenon might go sumpin like this:

  1. Nazca lines (inca religious leaders communicating with the gods high in the sky) (red hering- traffic signals for alien spaceships.....)
  2. political billboards (incan-spanish lower class in peru declaring their plight and announcing their politcal allegiance)
  3. home pride graffiti (americans)
history will judge!
i actually like the monograms.
so do i. but i guess that's obvious

Date Tue, 04 Jan 2000
From Tony

Didn't there used to be an Eloy "E"?

that's what i thought, too. i went down there, though, & didn't find one. there isn't even a mountain near enough for an E, really. but i could swear i remember one from when i was a kid ...

Date: Mon, 03 Jan 2000
From: El Paso

Mention of your website in the newspaper prompted me to visit and respond.

Wanted to bring to your attention one of the largest sites for Mountain Monograms in the southwest--namely my hometown of El Paso, Texas. I grew up practically in the shadow of these monograms and didn't give them much thought. As a kid I figured every town had them.

I haven't been back to El Paso in a while, so I'm recalling from memory here. I can remember at least two, and possibly three monograms on the slopes of the Franklin Mountains "E" for El Paso High School, a "U" for the University of Texas at El Paso, and possibly an "A" for Austin High School. My wife, another EP native thinks there might also have been a "C" on the western slope representing Coronado High School.

As for the bit about guiding planes, that doesn't wash here. I think it was purely for exhibiting school pride. How the monogram tradition began, I can't say. I remember a couple of occasions when the "E" was set on fire during special events like homecoming. I went to Burges High School on the east side of town, several miles from the Franklins, so we had to settle for burning a "B" into the football field of rival Eastwood.

From Colin S.
Date Mon, 13 Dec 1999

I've been lurking around your site for a couple months now, and just came across your moutain monograms section today... Very interesting! I was happy to see ones for Bisbee and Douglas, since I had a friend who used to live in both towns. Now seeing as I'm 4000 km away from either of those towns, way out here on the west coast of Canada, I'm not exactly an expert on these letters we don't have them in Canada, at least that I've seen.

probably cos of all the trees, eh?
However, I seem to recall on a trek through the States (and several small towns in Montana, Idaho, Utah, etc) seeing these things everywhere. Usually I would choose a gas station/corner store and ask them "What's with the D/K/C/etc on that mountain?" Their response was pretty much universal... They'd look at me funny, look at the plates on my car, rolls their eyes and explain, begrudgingly, why the town had the letter on the hill. I heard a couple of different stories, my favorite coming from a smirky, greasy, 16 year-old gas attendant, who told me it was there so he had a place to deflower his scores of females. Judging by the looks of him, I would tend to think these females would be of some completely different species, probably sheep... But I've gotten off on a tangent now. Ahem. The story which was most logical and often told was that the letters were started during America's big westward push. They were placed on the sides of mountains to let pioneers know which town they were approaching. You'll notice that most of the letters correspond to the first letter of the town closest to it. These are usually towns which have existed since the "wild west days" in some form.
they don't seem to be that old. in fact, they may not even have existed in the 19th century. not sure about that yet, though
It's only when you get into the 20th century that the letter begins to mean something other than the name of the town. By then, the need to mark a town's name on a hillside would have become fairly pointless, but the whole idea of claiming a mountain for the purpose of putting "your" letter on it would still be appealing. Hence, ASU in Tempe had an "N" (1918), Ray Highschool "R" (1960), Platteville it's "M" (1936) and so on. It's simply a tradition which has been carried on over the years, although the purpose has changed a little. So, there you go. As far as I know, this is why there are letters on the sides of American mountains. =)

PS In town here, it says "Welcome to Victoria" in flowers on the little slope between Government St. and the lower causeway of the Inner Harbour. I'll send you a picture of that if you like. Not as large as the mountain monograms, but prettier. ;-)

Victoria, BC

Date Sun, 12 Dec 1999
From Ken L.

Deuce, we don't got no stinkin' mountains here in A2. What we do have is a rock. A glacial deposit of much tonnage, memorializing something or other (the plaque is buried under inches of paint, hard by the University campus which attracts painters, many, many painters. We get fraternity painters, happy birthday painters, devil worship painters (OK I made that up but it could happen), just for the heck of it painters, and. . . .. This rock, known, oddly enough, as "The Rock" has its own city ordinance governing the painterly possibilities and the territory to be painted. There are protocols. We hope to have TR (the Rock) designated as a superfund site and placed on all Federal toxic waste maps. We also have rocks in the river which a local artist laid out in a heart shape which shapes the river flow in quite a loving way. We are waaaay past the alphabet here, we are into deconstructionist semiotics!

The mountain letters were placed on the mountains by wandering voyageurs in the early 18th Century sending a message through time asking us to support the election of a Belgian Cardinal to the Papacy. That Cardinal would have a namesake who would use miraculous tools to foster the cardinals candidacy around the world and that harbinger would have the SAME NAME as the Cardianal. The letters, when we find them all spell Godfried Danneels. Strange,but true.

Date: Tue, 23 Nov 1999
From: Anonymous

you will be pleased to know i found your j. there is one in jerome. you will be sad to know i had no digital camera to get it with, so i just stared at it and thought of you. you or one of your minions will have to go get it themselves. or, send me a digital camera, and i will get it for you...

From: Amanda B.
Subject: the Platteville M
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1999

Heya, was poking around yr site on another boring Friday at work, and happened across the Mountain Monograms page. Glanced at it, and instantly recognized the big M. One of my friends goes to Platteville, and pretty much the only road into that tiny hellhole goes past the M, so I've seen it many times. Just thought you'd like to know an interesting rumor regarding the M: Upperclassmen at Platteville like to tell freshmen that the M is made out of old refrigerator doors.

oooooh. i LIKE that!
Thanks for the interesting site to look at, keep up the weirdness!


From: Dell A.
Date: Mon, 25 Oct 1999
Subject: Mountain Monograms of SLO

Over San Luis Obispo, CA, hang not one but two mountain monograms: P for Poly, above Cal Poly State U which I go to, and M on the other side of town, above that famous kitsch landmark on US101, the Madonna Inn.

now i have two reasons to go to the madonna inn (which i've always meant to visit)
This leads many people, even locals, to refer to the volcanic peak on which this letter stands (the M has serifs, by the way, and is probably too small and thin to be much help to passing planes) as "Madonna Mountain", although most people call it San Luis Mountain and the USGS shows it as Cerro San Luis. In fact, the letter was put up and maintained -- originally at any rate -- by Mission Prep School as a rival to the proud Poly "P". But it is noteworthy that Alex Madonna, who owns both the Inn and most of the mountain, does at least not interfere with maintenance of the "M".

I'm guessing that you already know about the largest mountain writing I've seen to date: "South San Francisco / The Industrial City", which covers a considerable stretch of San Bruno Mountain up there.

From: Wayne C.
Date: Fri, 15 Oct 1999 12:16:18 PDT

In Livingston, Montana, there is not only a large "P" (Park High School) on the side of the hill, but an outline of an enormous rainbow trout (Livingston is the fly fishing capitol of the world).

going to have to get a photo of THAT.

Date: Sun, 10 Oct 1999
From: Craig C.

There is one from the town of Socorro (in case you are wondering socorro is spanish for help) New Mexico.

The m is for mining.

From: C. Aiken
Date: Sat, 9 Oct 1999

It's not just small towns in Arizona that have MMs. Cowles Mountain, the highest point in San Diego had an "S" on it for San Diego State College (now University). I could see the S from my bedroom in La Mesa and I just figured that all big mountains by big schools had big letters on them. Once a year, around homecoming, there would be a torchlit march up the mountain to put more whitewash on the boulders forming the S. My dad told me that freshmen maintained the S.

here in tempe, arizona state university's "A" gets painted every few weeks by pranksters. but the administration is obsessed with keeping it gold. people have suggested taking core samples of the "A," just to see how many times it's been painted.
I climbed the mountain a couple of times with my brothers and some friends (the highlight was being shot at as we crossed some guy's bean field which is now all houses). We would roll some of the smaller boulders down the mountain. They quit maintaining the S before I got to SDSC which is good because I didn't want to maintain the S because of some smart-ass kids that messed up the boulders. I now live in Indiana where mountain monograms is a moot point.
you could have crop circles, though
I found you via the Mojave Telephone. I first came across it on the SoCal Auto Club's San Bernardino County map while I was tracking down the Aiken Cinder Cone. Do you know why my name is given to a cinder cone?
i'm afraid i do not.

Date: Fri, 8 Oct 1999
Subject: mountain letters

Provo Utah has one of the largest "Mountain letters" in the world. The "Y" represents the Brigham Young University. I thought mountain letters were a Utah thing.....many communities have these letters and they basically look goofy as hell. But, Utah is goofy as hell.

From: Neil Z.
Subject: Q from space!!!!
Date: Thu, 07 Oct 1999


Borrowing from Lazlo Nibble's idea, and combining it with my own craving to answer the "wonder if . . . " question, I decided to embark on a little easter egg hunt of my own: "Monograms from space."

I figured if ya' can't physically travel the world looking for "Mountain Monograms" might as well use the next best thing! Attached is a picture of the "Quartzsite, AZ 'Q'" thanks in part to the USGS's Imaging and Lazlo Nibble's good idea.

More to come if you are interested in them. Enjoy!

definitely! neil, you ROCK.

lately i've been getting umpteen e-mails a day about the damned phone booth. but your kind of e-mail, sir, is EXACTLY the reason i maintain a website. now THAT is participation.

thank you! yes, i'd love to see more of these.

thanks again!

From: Neil Z.
Subject: B from space!!!!
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 1999

Hello again!

Here's the Bisbee, AZ 'B' it's a little fuzzy, but it's there! And in responce to your last eMail -- Thanks! I like to think of it as a little "Easter Egg Hunt" -- it's good fun! But anyway, here's the 'B', enjoy!

P.S. If you know of any Mountain Monograms that exist, and you don't have pictures of, just lemmie know the City/State and about where it is (if you know) and I'll do by best to find 'em for ya'. (It'll give me a little more of a challenge)

Date: Tue, 05 Oct 1999
From: Don R. Deaton

My home town, Sanderson, Texas, is surrounded by 400' hills. There is a relatively large S on the range of hills on the west side of town just above the football field. Until around 1966, there was a huge SHS on the high "mountain" south of town.

In Alpine, Texas there is a large "A" on the hill southwest of town. Most Texas towns who are fortunate enough to have a hill next to town have similar letters which are kept up by the local high school students.

Date: Mon, 4 Oct 1999
Subject: A letter "D"
From: Gail

I got my pictures back and was sorely disappointed to find my D from Del Norte Colorado didn't turn out to well. But here it is anyway.

From: Cali
Subject: P is for "Parker"
Date: Fri, 1 Oct 1999

Hi Deuce

how about that missing map for the letter p in your Mountain me on this, there is a huge letter P on a mountainside going into Parker, AZ.

you are welcome!

From: l riffel
Subject: Letters on hills/Hill picures, etc...
Date: Thu, 30 Sep 1999

Why do people put letters on hillsides you ask? Well I may be able to shed some (admitedly dim but relatively interesting) light on the subject. I visitied the south of England in the summer of '93 and drove around to many ancient sites like Stonehenge, etc. One of the more fascinating sites is the "White Horse of Uffington", which is (not surprisingly) a huge horse figure created by removing the upper layer of soil to expose the white chalk underneath. The thing is impressively large (some 400 feet across) and as I recall, many hundred years old - difinitely predating aircraft, and not near any trains as I remember. I purchased a book there titled "White Horses of England" and it describes at length the many, many figures carved on the hillsides of Southern England. As to why they did it, many had ties to harvest festivals, so the folks would supposedly ascend the hill and party around the figure, thanking the deities for the bountiful harvest. One that stands out is the "Rude Man of Cerne" which is a very large carving of a man standing upright proudly diplaying his engorged manhood. What's up with that? Anyway, the theory I put forward is perhaps we Americans subconsciously remember some of our ancestors' hill figures and just feel the need to go out and carve something on a hill. Like the "H" on the hillside behind my old house in Glendale, CA...stands for "Hoover High" I'm told.

an interesting theory. i don't know what to say; like angelica graynamore, "i have no response to that"!

Date: Tue, 28 Sep 1999
From: lara

Asked my colleague Bill about letters on mountainsides; he says there's a big 'U" in salt lake city, standing for "University of Utah" (called "the U" in SLC, Brigham Young Univ is called "The Y"). He thinks it has nothing to do with railroads or airplanes, but thinks the reason is simply a matter of "why not?", or to paraphrase the Everest climbers, "Why put a letter on a mountainside? Because it's there."

more as I find it...

From: samantha
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999

I just ran into your web site and I although I don't have pictures for you, I have some info about a couple of monogrammed mountains out there.

In addition to Bisbee [and] Basic School, a "B" also adorns the mountain closest to Bouse, Arizona. Also of interest...Bouse is home to the bar Somewhere in Arizona. It's worth checking out if you're ever in the area.

i actually have a photo of wagner in front of that bar.
As for "P"..."P" mountain (that's what we always called it, anyway) stands proud next to my hometown of Parker, Arizona.

I also believe you can find "I" mountain near Iron Mountain, California.

From: Dolly Klose
Date: Sun, 26 Sep 1999

Deuce -- Don't have a picture of it, but I know that Prescott, AZ has a "P Mountain". If you stand on Rte 69 just in front of the Wal-Mart store, you'll get a grand view of it!

Date: Sun, 26 Sep 1999
From: The Evolution Control Committee

GRAND CANYON ALMIGHTY somehow I hadn't stumbled across the Mountain Monograms page until now. This issue had my girlfriend and I TOTALLY STUMPED as we drove her from San Francisco to move here to Columbus OH... we would pass minescule city after minescule city with big letters on the side of the mountain each place. I'll have to dig in my picture pile to see if I snapped shots of any. I think my fave pet theory about them was that people on the train (hobos to engineers) would be able to tell at an upward glance just where they were. That would at least explain at least one preceeded the Wright Brothers as you mentioned. Anyway, nice to see that somebody else has been concerned and confounded with this as well.

CIRCULAR ADDENDUM: In an effort to use the all-encompassing arbiter of all culture knowledge, otherwise known as "The Internet", to answer this question I went to Ask Jeeves ( and asked "Why are there letters on the sides of mountains?". While it may not have an answer to it, at least their search from Infoseek pointed me right back to your site. Clever thing, this internet. But not clever enough; I couldn't find a thing. I'll pass this on to my girlfriend, a research librarian, who will not rest until an answer is found. Letcha know of the results...

well, that's cool. i wasn't sure how people would find the site, because (a) they probably wouldn't be looking for anything like that, and (b) they wouldn't be sure what to call them. so, i'm glad jeeves came through. "jeeves, you are a marvel!" says bertie

Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999
Subject: Cole, who Cole?
From: Gila Mon

I spoke to a Payson cop who used to be a cop in Fredonia. I asked him if Fredonia had a "F" mountain monogram. He said that it used to but is not sure now. He said that the high school kids used to have a Burn the F party on F-Hill. He thinks "F" hill has been bought privately and the "F" destroyed. He was very excited about the mountain monogram thing and rattled off about 10 of them that he remembers in Utah including "D" in St. George (He said it stood for Dixie), a "Y" at BYU, a "U" at University of Utah (or was it Utah University), a "K" in Kanab, and a "P" in Panguitch (possibly). He said that in about any Utah town with a high school you will find a mountain monogram. He also mentioned how he would read letters to the editor in the newspaper people complaining about either mountain monograms or proposed mountain monograms. He said people would get irate about them saying that they defaced the mountain.

Still haven't run into Marshall Trimble, but my eyes are peeled.

From: Joe E.
Subject: Mountain Monikers
Date: Sun, 19 Sep 1999

Saw your web site while perusing the story of the Mojave Phone Booth. I believe the letters are to tell pilots of small planes what town they are over.

i kinda thought so, too. except i'm pretty sure the one at bisbee, for example, was there before the wright brothers.

also, if they are aimed at planes, it would be better for them to be in a field, than on a mountain. many of them wouldn't be easily read from the air.

east of phoenix, there's a huge "PHOENIX" spelled out, with an arrow. i used to think it was a landmark. but the superstition mountains -- some of the most recognizable mountains in the continental u.s. -- are right there in plain view, as is phoenix's camelback mountain. and again, you'd have to be flying quite low for it to be any use.

i dunno. but maybe you're right.

Yep, the field would be better but the farmers would lose out in not being able to cultivate it. If it is on a mountain the ground is not being used for anything and it has a secondary benefit in that it reminds the town drunks of where they are as the wake up on Sunday morning.

I have also thought they might be high school projects from the 20's and 30's that allowed forced labor by the kiddies to show their citizenship or some such. I was coming back from Lake Chelan (East of the Cascade Mountains) to Seattle last Sunday and passed a sheer cliff about 150' high in the middle of nowhere that had numbers like 29, 56, 34, 72 etc all over it. It just screamed high school class graffiti from the last 75 years.

From: Neil Z.
Subject: Mountain Monograms
Date: Sun, 22 Aug 1999

Hey! I got a city for the letter 'M' on your "Mountain Monograms" page. It's the city where I go to school in Wisconsin. NO . . . It's not Milwaukee, NO, it's not Madison . . . Give up? It's Platteville Wisconsin! WHY you ask does a city that starts with P have "the worlds largest 'M'" on the side of a hill? Go here to find out for yourself . . .

Date: Sun, 15 Aug 1999
From: Russ C
Subject: A Mountain Monogram!

Hi Deuce,

The attached shot of the airstrip at Kearny, Arizona contains (by coincidence) a Mountain Monogram! The 'R' stands for Ray High School, which was relocated to Kearny sometime in the 60's when the actual town of Ray was dismantled to make room for expansion of the open pit copper mine there.